Two-thirds of teachers in Scotland do not feel they have received sufficient training in mental health according to the findings of a survey carried out by a leading charity.
Just one in 100 said they could recall doing detailed work on mental health when they were student teachers.
Only around a third (34 per cent) of all staff said their school had an effective way of responding to pupils experiencing mental health problems.
SAMH chief executive Billy Watson said: “Improving the self-esteem, resilience and well-being of all our young people must be a priority if we want them to learn.
“While we know work on mental health training is under way as part of the mental health strategy, we think more needs to be done – at a quicker pace, and on a national level.
“The situation is urgent and school staff and pupils can’t wait any longer. It’s got to change. We want the Scottish Government to commit to establishing a national programme of mental health training that is consistent to meet the needs of school staff.”
EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan described the survey results as “deeply concerning”.
He added: “Teachers are facing an increasingly complex range of needs in the classroom, with members telling us that social emotional and mental health issues are becoming increasingly prevalent among pupils.
“At the same time, support services are being cut, and teachers are facing barriers to accessing appropriate professional learning on supporting young people with diverse needs. Both national and local government need to pay close attention to the data supplied by this survey and ensure that school and teachers are supported in responding to the needs of pupils.”
Mental health minister Maureen Watt said: “Every child and young person should have access to emotional and mental well-being support in school. To ensure this we’ve started a national review of personal and social education – including consideration of the role of guidance and counselling in local authority schools.”